Third Horizon Thinking
A major challenge to global sustainability and regeneration is the dominant form of thinking that has shaped our world into crisis and conditioned our decisions. This is first horizon thinking.
In his new book, H3Uni founder Anthony Hodgson, has condensed a lifetime of research into the question as to how we need to think differently in a way that questions many deeply ingrained assumptions of the first horizon and opens up new possibilities for a horizon two transitions.
In the book he describes a search for ways of thinking congruent with the emerging third horizon. It is a journey that takes systems thinking to a new level called second-order science. This approach includes the presence of the observer, other ways of knowing than normal science, and serves as a foundation for practices of creative collaboration.
Anthony’s new book – Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives – invites us into becoming reflexive practitioners of the art and science of re-patterning and co-creating an uncertain future through a deeper appreciation of the qualities inherent in the future potential of the present moment.
Anthony’s new book — Systems Thinking for a Turbulent World: A Search for New Perspectives — invites us into becoming reflexive practitioners of the art and science of re-patterning and co-creating an uncertain future through a deeper appreciation of the qualities inherent in the future potential of the present moment.The book offers new ways of embracing uncertainty in a complex world yet nevertheless finding constructive ways to collaborate with others ready to chart our collective path into a future that will surprise us while also taking seriously our co-creative agency to affect that future.
If you accept the premise that consciousness and its exercise is an essential factor in taking practical action together – which as action researchers we certainly do – then this book offers a rich compendium of approaches to try out for oneself and one’s practice.
Anthony has distilled a lifetime of exploration in reconciling love of science with a deep personal search for understanding the future. This has led him to advocate for the key role of the Self as critical for understanding and taking action toward a better future. Anthony helps us see that a better future is also now. We plant seeds, rather than speculate and plan. First person consciousness is critical to overcome our stuckness around new and needed collaborations. Having the chapters follow the outline of the Zen stages of ox herding, is a nice touch.
The world is a complex system in which we continue to intervene with perhaps dangerous consequences. Systems thinking acknowledges this complexity – that everything connects to everything else, causes generate effects which are themselves causes and so on. Systems thinking is good at helping to get to grips with the complexity, but could be improved with the addition of two shifts.
The first shift is to include ourselves in the system – to acknowledge that the person(s) observing and mapping the system are also a part of it. That will improve responsibility: if we are part of the system we are more likely to take responsibility for how it behaves.
The second shift is to acknowledge that we can include knowledge from the future (anticipation, premonition, expectation, vision, potential and so on) in seeking to understand how the system operates, alongside knowledge from the past. This will improve effectiveness: our actions and decisions will be guided not only by an appreciation of past performance but by an anticipation of future consequences and aspiration. This power of anticipation, a consciousness of the future, is something that human beings have and that machine learning and AI does not – which is why we need to include the human in decision-making, especially to address a turbulent world.
These shifts might mean in practice facilitating processes that encourage whole persons to come into the room (observer as part of the system) with all of their hopes, fears, values, ways of knowing and so on and to enable them all to express themselves (in multiple ways). Also hold paradigms and frameworks loosely to allow for ‘re-patterning’ of existing assumptions and forms – eg by using visual facilitation methods that allow people to see patterns and connections.
This is not the silver bullet. It will not solve all the problems of the world. But it is likely to improve on our current ways of addressing them and is worth a try.
I’m looking forward to reading it again—and glad Morin was useful for you.
I’m pretty sure we’ll be using this in my program, where a good systems book would find a wonderful home.
And of course your perspective is very fresh—as you know, it’s not unusual for systems books to become rather heavy going as well as miss the epistemological dimension.